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Traveling Daycare Storytime
Lexington Public Library, KY
Innovation SummaryTraveling Daycare Storytime brings library story times to local daycares using trained volunteers and a retrofitted recreational vehicle. The vehicle was donated by a local company and is shared by the library and the Lexington Speech and Hearing Center. A rotating schedule bring story time to 12 day cares.
The Lexington Public Library offers story times and preschool programs throughout the week, but children in day care have less access to these programs. Day cares with low-income children have a particular need for story times because the workers often are less likely to be trained in reading-readiness and the children are less likely to be read to at home. Story time activities play an important role in preparing children to learn and succeed when they enter school. The library has immensely popular story times in house and serves 20 to 25 day cares, but with 173 day cares in Lexington, there are still thousands of children who don't have the opportunity to attend a library story time. There are staff and space limitations that prevent reaching more children with all that is offered at an in-house story time. Bringing a complete story time to a day care offers the opportunity not only to reach preschool children who need the early experiences with books and reading that are essential to reading readiness. It also provides day care providers a first-hand experience of what makes a good story time, including movement, songs, activities, and crafts.
Traveling Daycare Storytime began to move forward when a local IT company, Software Information Systems, offered a recreational vehicle that had been used by the company for on-the-road training. The company already had offered the RV to the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center, but the center wasn't ready to take on the donation on its own, so the library offered to partner. The Library Foundation's Young Professionals Committee raised funds to retrofit the RV and wrap the outside with graphics. All day cares in Lexington received a note about the new program, and those that responded were evaluated based on need, parking availability for an RV, and proximity to other possible stops. A six-day rotation was developed, allowing 12 day cares to receive visits every other week. A push for volunteers, who would present the story times, was made by contacting the local library science school and education programs, organizations that coordinate volunteer opportunities, and the news media. Volunteers attended a day-long training session. A new part-time position was defined and posted for a professional driver. With day cares selected, volunteers trained and scheduled, and a professional driver hired, Traveling Daycare Storytime was ready to hit the road. By soliciting a donated vehicle, forming a partnership with another nonprofit, using donations to retrofit the vehicle, and recruiting volunteers to staff it, the library was able to take this valuable program into underserved neighborhoods at minimal cost to the library.
Within its first two weeks of operation, Traveling Daycare Storytime reached 420 children. Day care providers are required to attend and participate in the story times along with their children, seeing for themselves what a dynamic story time experience can be. Volunteers, many of whom were nervous beforehand, were amazed by their early experience and are energized and motivated to take on more dates. The library is using its new contact with day cares to encourage them to use the library in other available ways, including the library's educator card (which allows longer loan periods and fewer restrictions on number of materials), the Teacher Materials Request Form (which allows librarians to put together songs, fingerplays, and books around a teacher's theme), "50 Books to Read in Kindergarten" (a list of great picture books sorted by reading-readiness skills). Building the program from the ground up was daunting because everything was being done for the first time, but it has given the library access to day cares that most need library services.